Galvin has had enough pain

For a few hours at least tomorrow afternoon former Footballer of the Year Paul Galvin will be the second most important GAA player in his household.

Brother Reggie moves top of the pecking order as he captains Lixnaw in the Kerry senior hurling final against three-in-a-row chasing Ballyduff.

Leading your club into battle in a county decider is a proud day for any player but the 26-year-old defender will have additional reason to cherish the honour.

First the background. Galvin was as talented a footballer as he is a hurler. He played minor in 2003 and two years later, at 19, was on the U21 side narrowly defeated by Cork in the Munster Championships.

A senior call-up seemed just around the corner. And then disaster struck in 2005.

He recalled: “I just played with the U21 team and everything was going well for me at the time. I had won an All-Ireland club title with Finuge earlier that year, and I was really enjoying my hurling and football.

“A week after the Cork game, we had a County League game against Kenmare in Lixnaw and I did the cruciate in my left knee.

“I spent the next nine months in rehab. But I was young and mad for road and probably came back too quickly. We played Currow in a County League game in 2006 and I made my return to action. I remember kicking the ball over the bar with my left leg, and feeling the sharp pain. I knew my knee was gone again. It took me 12 months to recover but I was still involved when Lixnaw won the County Championship in 2007 so that kept the spirits up.”

But that was not the end of Galvin’s cruciate misery...

“In the opening round of the 2009 senior hurling championship we played Abbeydorney and I did my other knee. So that was three cruciates! The only positive was that it was the other knee. I went through more rehab and it was a struggle to get back but finally I managed it in 2011 and for the first time in about six years, I felt confident. Thankfully I have been as good as ever since.”

Galvin has been a central figure in Lixnaw’s run to tomorrow’s final at Austin Stack Park. And the captain’s armband has made his approach the final with a changed mindset.

“Of course it would be great to captain Lixnaw to a county title win, and it would mean an awful lot to me after a tough few years recovering from various injuries. The captaincy makes you more aware of the club and other players and in a way you become less self-obsessed. You also become a bit more conscious of being a bit more disciplined in your play, because I realise I am representing a great club, a great parish and above all, great people. There are so many leaders in the Lixnaw dressing room that it enables you to concentrate on your own game, after you take the toss.”

Facing Finuge are a Ballyduff side bidding for the three-in-a-row. Galvin and company don’t need much of a lesson on their opponents’ capabilities.

“I am not going to start even thinking of climbing them steps because I know how good Ballyduff are. We face a very tough challenge. Ballyduff are a big strong team. We have had some fair battles with them over the past two years and we have come out on the wrong side of the results but I think we have improved under Brian Begley this year. We will have to break down their defence and we will just have to get our own game right on the day. No one ever remembers losing finalists or the losing captain — do they?”

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